Friday, February 24, 2006

The Religion War and Kite Runner

It has been quite a while since I have put down my thoughts here. This retirement business is very involving and exhausting. We have hardly had a moment to stop and think, let alone write about one's thoughts. I've had more time to read and I've done that because I got so many good books for Christmas.

Two of my favorites books are very applicable to the current state of affairs in the Middle East. When I began this blog it was not my object or goal to comment about political or religious themes. However, it seems that I have slipped into that from time to time. It's cogent to my "preservation" theme and what is becoming more and more important to me...and to the World. Scott Adams has a small tome of fiction that follows his thought essay "God's Debris". I wrote about it briefly in a previous posting. It is called "The Religion War". It is a work of "science fiction" in the near future. Some of his observations and projections are not all that "fictitious" in light of what is happening right now in Iraq, Iran, Pakistan. One wonders if we are not seeing the beginnings of a very tragic scenario that he proposes in this book. The rioting over the depiction of very inappropriate "cartoons" only confirms the very divergent "cultural sensitivities" and the beliefs that there are many insurmountable "values disjunction" that have never and may never be overcome. In fact there was a recent attempt at a movie questioning what is considered "funny" or a "sense of humor" in Muslim Society. ie. not depicting their "prophet". There was even the recent suggestion made in the media that there is such sectarian hatred and division in these countries that our concept of "democracy" is impossible at this time and only a strong, totalitarian dictatorship is what can keep the countries from complete anarchy and civil war.

Of course, Scott Adams questions, through his writings, how an omnipotent, omniscient God could allow this all to happen. He plays it out to absurdity with the ultimate "sides" Christian vs. Islam with both sides calling on the same God to help them. This goes back historically to Abraham or "Ibraham" the "father" of both religions. It pits brother against brother from the very beginning, ie back to Cain and Abel. The "Avatar" in his sequel suggests remedies and solutions but is ultimately frustrated with what has to transpire. I won't ruin in for you if you plan to read it, but the conclusion(?) only raises more questions for me. It is almost too simple and ridiculous to be believable. It has to do with "farting and the internet"...go figure.

"Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini has been on the best seller list for weeks, maybe months. It is an engrossing biographical novel/memoir of the lives of two Afghani "brothers" who were "raised" together to a point. I say this in quotes because there was a love/hate relationship fostered by their births and class distinctions. Amir and Hassan. Amir was born Sunni and Hassan, Shi'ite. Amir was educated, Hassan was his servant but they did things together almost as equals. This was back in the 60's and 70's before the recent wars. Their "love" and closeness started to disintegrate when a tragic event happened at the end of the annual kite-flying contest. This whole event was fascinating to me because kite flying holds some of my fondest memories of my dad and my boys.

My dad taught me how to make kites from "scratch". Yes, we made our own flour and water paste, split lath, and bought present-wrapping tissue. On Sunday afternoons in the Spring we would take our hand-made creations to our local Verdugo Hills above Highland Park and fly them as far and as long as we could. We'd have to drive off-road sometimes to get to the "primo" launching spots. We'd pack our lunch and make a day of it. One particular day it was windy and gloriously bright with a few whispy clouds. We had our largest "masterpiece" with new spools of our strongest string. It was always a challenge to get it up and keep it up with all the proper "balancing" tricks and the lengthening of the tail. We got that one way out, "over Pasadena" we thought and then the string broke. We never got it back. It was our prize kite and we lost it to set our "personal best" record.

When I taught school at Chaparral in Claremont one of the teachers had an annual kite-flying contest. It was great fun to help my boys make their entries. Sometimes they flew well and other times they just barely made the "qualifying flight". They were judged on several levels and criteria. Our school had a nice long "turf" to launch them all. I remember we had several winners including a "flying pizza" and "Ben Franklin's Original Lightening Struck Kite"...complete with skeleton key and burnt hole. We also learned how to be good losers when some didn't make the cut. What fun!

In the book, their annual Afghani contest had to do with specially prepared string that could "cut" other's kite strings and still remain in the air. The last one flying was the winner. The real prize was to bring back the loser's kite as a trophy. Finding that kite in the crowded city streets of Kabul was the real challenge. Hassan had that talent. He had a "sixth-sense" about where it would eventually come down. Now there were bullies in the streets with brass knuckles. Hassan was also extremely loyal and faithful to Amir. He had that fraternal or brotherly love which I have written about in previous posts. The rest I will leave to you to guess or read about.

I am convinced that most of our "troubles" in this world, personally, or nationally, religiously or culturally come from this "lack of love", on a very personal level, starting with ourselves and ending with a lack of "mutual respect" for other's values and ways. We don't want to show it, or know how to show it in an acceptable way. We are inhumane to each other for any number of reasons all stemming from some form of pride or "fear" and "theft" as it is stated in the book. There is only one ultimate "sin"...that of "stealing"...not just things but, a life (murder), a wife (adultry) or "a life" (even one's own) in the lack of loving it and caring for it. This is what I want to work on now. Bob


At 11:22 AM, Blogger Edward Ott said...

excellent writing i really enjoyed your review of the kite runner.



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